Homeless camp clean-up tops two tons

Umatilla County law enforcement and planning department, with the help of Sanitary Disposal Inc. of Hermiston, cleaned out property Thursday along the banks of the Umatilla River on River Road where campers were unlawfully residing in tents and a small trailer.

Umatilla County authorities cleaned up another transient camp and threw out more than two tons of materials last week..

Undersheriff Jim Littlefield said the camp was on the banks of the Umatilla River adjacent to Old River Road, about half a mile south of the homeless camp the sheriff’s office cleared out in early March. He said the sheriff’s office at that time heard rumors of a second camp in the area, but citizen complaints did not start rolling in about the site until August and September.

The agency found the camp spread across Oregon Department of Transportation property, county property and “a sliver of private property,” Littlefield said. The site had about six regulars unlawfully living in tents and a small recreational trailer. Deputies trespassed people from the site and made several arrests there, Littlefield said, primarily on warrants.

Littlefield also said the sheriff’s office checked the camp periodically and found everyone abandoned the camp by late November or early December, but they left behind the trailer and a lot of waste and debris.

The sheriff’s office worked with the planning department’s code enforcement arm and with the community justice department to remove the garbage on Thursday and teamed up with Sanitary Disposal Inc. of Hermiston, which provided a large commercial dumpster.

The dirty work of putting camp items into the dumpster fell to community justice work crews, which consist of local offenders making good on community service hours as part of their probation. Littlefield said cleaning up the camp was another example of the fine work the crews do.

Staff at Sanitary Disposal reported the trash came to 4,280 pounds, not including the trailer, which a tow truck hauled off. Littlefield said the garbage filled the dumpster, but the amount was surprising.

The sheriff’s office planned to clean up the camp at the start of December, but Littlefield said winter storms delayed the work.

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